Burkinshaw, Kathleen. The Last Cherry Blossom
August 2nd 2016 by Sky Pony Press
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
For Yuriko (sometimes called Joya by her father), life in Hiroshima is fairly pleasant, even with the advent of WWII. When her aunt Kimiko and her obnoxious son Genji move in with her and the privations of war intensify, things are less pleasant. Still, both Kimiko and her father are planning to remarry, and there are plans to be made for the celebration, and family secrets are revealed. When the atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima, these secrets are of little consequence in the wake of the devastation to Yuriko's family and home. This is loosely based on the author's mother's experience surviving the bombing, and an extensive glossary is at the back.
Strengths: I am always a fan of books that tell me more about what daily life in a particular place at a particular time was like, and this does a good job, with much of the book covering the time period before the bombing. I can't think of another book that covers this topic. The family secret adds another layer of interest to this. Clearly well researched, this also has a strong emotional impact due to the personal touch of the author's mother's experiences.
Weaknesses: For some reason, I got distracted by odd details that seemed like they might not have been accurate. We're talking TINY details, like the sewing machine that can do a satin stitch, or some of the food, which seemed heavy on meat that might have been difficult to obtain during the war. Granted, I know absolutely nothing about what went on in Japan, so I was working from a purely US knowledge base.
What I really think: Much needed book about not only what when on in Japan during the war, but also after the bombing of Hiroshima. Definitely a must purchase for schools whose curriculum covers WWII, and just generally interesting.